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1.  Navigating a strange and complex environment: experiences of Sudanese refugee women using a new nutrition resource 
Refugees experience dietary changes as part of the daily challenges they face resettling in a new country. Sudanese women seek to care and feed their families, but face language barriers in the marketplace, limited access to familiar foods, and forced new food choices. This study aimed to understand the acceptability of a purse-sized nutrition resource, “The Market Guide”, which was developed to help recently immigrated Sudanese refugee women identify and purchase healthy foods and navigate grocery stores.
Eight women participated in a focus group, four of whom were also observed during accompanied grocery store visits. Individual interviews were conducted with four health care workers at the resettlement center to gather perceptions about the suitability of The Market Guide. Focus groups and interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Data from field notes and transcripts were analyzed using grounded theory for preliminary open codes, followed by selective and theoretical coding.
The Market Guide was of limited use to Sudanese women. Their response to this resource revealed the struggles of women acculturating during their first year in Calgary, Canada. We discovered the basic social process, “Navigating through a strange and complex environment: learning ways to feed your family.” Language, transportation, and an unfamiliar marketplace challenged women and prevented them from exercising their customary role of “knowing” which foods were “safe and good” for their families. The nutrition resource fell short of informing food choices and purchases, and we discovered that “learning to feed your family” is a relational process where trusted persons, family, and friends help navigate dietary acculturation.
Emergent theory based on the basic social process may help health care professionals consider relational learning when planning health promotion and nutrition activities with Sudanese families.
PMCID: PMC3998869  PMID: 24790470
nutrition resource; dietary acculturation; Sudanese refugees; grounded theory; health promotion
2.  Geophagy practices and the content of chemical elements in the soil eaten by pregnant women in artisanal and small scale gold mining communities in Tanzania 
Geophagy, a form of pica, is the deliberate consumption of soil and is relatively common across Sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, pregnant women commonly eat soil sticks sold in the market (pemba), soil from walls of houses, termite mounds, and ground soil (kichuguu). The present study examined geophagy practices of pregnant women in a gold mining area of Geita District in northwestern Tanzania, and also examined the potential for exposure to chemical elements by testing soil samples.
We conducted a cross sectional study using a convenience sample of 340 pregnant women, ranging in age from 15–49 years, who attended six government antenatal clinics in the Geita District, Tanzania. Structured interviews were conducted in June-August, 2012, to understand geophagy practices. In addition, soil samples taken from sources identified by pregnant women practicing geophagy were analysed for mineral element content.
Geophagy was reported by 155 (45.6%) pregnant women with 85 (54.8%) initiating the practice in the first trimester. A total of 101 (65%) pregnant women reported eating soil 2 to 3 times per day while 20 (13%) ate soil more than 3 times per day. Of 155 pregnant women 107 (69%) bought pemba from local shops, while 48 (31%) consumed ground soil kichuguu. The estimated mean quantity of soil consumed from pemba was 62.5 grams/day. Arsenic, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel and zinc levels were found in both pemba and kichuguu samples. Cadmium and mercury were found only in the kichuguu samples. Based on daily intake estimates, arsenic, copper and manganese for kichuguu and copper and manganese for pemba samples exceed the oral Minimum Risk Levels designated by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry.
Almost 50% of participants practiced geophagy in Geita District consistent with other reports from Africa. Both pemba and kichuguu contained chemical elements at varying concentration, mostly above MRLs. As such, pregnant women who eat soil in Geita District are exposed to potentially high levels of chemical elements, depending upon frequency of consumption, daily amount consumed and the source location of soil eaten.
PMCID: PMC3997190  PMID: 24731450
Geophagy; Pica; Pregnancy; Chemical elements; Soil pollution; Arsenic; Mercury
3.  Maternal perceptions of partner support during breastfeeding 
Many women find breastfeeding challenging to sustain beyond the first three postpartum months. Women rely on a variety of resources to aid and encourage breastfeeding, including ‘partner support’. Women’s perception of partner support during breastfeeding may influence maternal satisfaction and confidence but it remains understudied. We asked women about their perceptions of partner support during breastfeeding and measured the effect on maternal confidence, commitment, and satisfaction with respect to breastfeeding.
Using a descriptive, cross sectional design, we recruited 76 mothers from community health clinics in Calgary, Alberta. Participants completed a questionnaire addressing perceptions of partner support, the Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale (BSES) measuring maternal confidence and ability to breastfeed, and the Hill and Humenick Lactation Scale (HHLS) measuring commitment, perceived infant satiety, and breastfeeding satisfaction. Descriptive analysis was performed on socio-demographic and survey responses. Multiple regression modeling was used to examine the association between partner support and breastfeeding outcomes.
Women who reported active/positive support from their partners scored higher on the BSES (p < 0.019) than those reporting ambivalent/negative partner support when we controlled for previous breastfeeding experience and age of infant. There were no significant differences between the two groups of women on total score of HHLS or any of the subscales with respect to perceptions of partner support.
Mothers feel more capable and confident about breastfeeding when they perceive their partners are supportive by way of verbal encouragement and active involvement in breastfeeding activities. Mothers with partners who seemed ambivalent, motivated only by “what’s best for baby,” or provided negative feedback about breastfeeding, felt less confident in their ability to breastfeed. It is important that health care professionals appreciate the influence that positive and active partner support has upon the development of maternal confidence in breastfeeding, a known predictor for maintaining breastfeeding. Common support strategies could be communicated to both the partner and mother in the prenatal and postpartum periods. Health professionals can provide information, invite partners to become active learners and discuss supportive partner functions. Further research should address those functions that are perceived as most supportive by mothers and that partners are willing to perform.
PMCID: PMC3653816  PMID: 23651688
Breastfeeding; Perceived support; Partner
4.  Postpartum nurses' perceptions of barriers to screening for intimate partner violence: a cross-sectional survey 
BMC Nursing  2012;11:2.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a human rights violation that is pervasive worldwide, and is particularly critical for women during the reproductive period. IPV includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Nurses on in-patient postpartum units are well-positioned to screen women for IPV, yet low screening rates suggest that barriers to screening exist. The purpose of this study was to (a) identify the frequency of screening for IPV, (b) the most important barriers to screening, (c) the relationship between the barriers to screening and the frequency of screening for types of abuse, and (d) to identify other factors that contribute to the frequency of screening for IPV.
In 2008, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of 96 nurses from postpartum inpatient units in three Canadian urban hospitals. The survey included the Barriers to Abuse Assessment Tool (BAAT), adapted for postpartum nurses (PPN). Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models were used to predict barriers to screening for each type of IPV.
The frequency of screening varied by the type of abuse with highest screening rates found for physical and emotional abuse. According to the BAAT-PPN, lack of knowledge was the most important barrier to screening. The BAAT-PPN total score was negatively correlated with screening for physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Using OLS regression models and after controlling for demographic characteristics, the BAAT-PPN explained 14%, 12%, and 11% of the variance in screening for physical, sexual and emotional abuse, respectively. Fluency in the language of the patient was negatively correlated with screening for each type of abuse. When added as Step 3 to OLS regression models, language fluency was associated with an additional decrease in the likelihood of screening for physical (beta coefficient = -.38, P < .001), sexual (beta coefficient = -.24, P = .05), and emotional abuse (beta coefficient = -.48, P < .001) and increased the variance explained by the model to 25%, 17%, and 31%, respectively.
Our findings support an inverse relationship between rates of screening for IPV and nurses' perceptions of barriers. Barriers to screening for IPV, particularly related to knowledge and language fluency, need to be addressed to increase rates of screening on postpartum units.
PMCID: PMC3305627  PMID: 22348260
5.  Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy and the Use of Prescription Medication: A Pilot Study 
Objective. To examine the association of self-efficacy, perception of milk production, and lactating women's use of medication prescribed to increase breast milk in a cohort of 18–40-year-old mothers over six months. Methods. Mothers (n = 76) attending community clinics completed the Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale and the Humenick/Hill Lactation Scale, a measure of perceived milk production, three times. Results. Domperidone, a dopamine antagonist, was used by 28% of participants. On average, those using domperidone had lower self-efficacy scores than those not using it (P < 0.05) and were more likely to have used formula (Pearson chi-square test statistic  = 6.87, df = 1, P < 0.05). Breastfeeding self efficacy and perception of milk production were positively correlated. Conclusion. Breastfeeding assessment conducted prior to prescription of galactogogues is recommended for mothers and healthy term babies. Following Baby-Friendly hospital protocols and increasing self-efficacy for lactating women may be most effective in sustaining breastfeeding. Risks and benefits of various galactogogues are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3246777  PMID: 22220176
6.  Components of an Anticancer Diet: Dietary Recommendations, Restrictions and Supplements of the Bill Henderson Protocol 
Nutrients  2010;3(1):1-26.
The use of complementary and alternative medicines including dietary supplements, herbals and special diets to prevent or treat disease continues to be popular. The following paper provides a description of an alternative dietary approach to the self-management and treatment of cancer, the Bill Henderson Protocol (BHP). This diet encourages daily intake of raw foods, a combination of cottage cheese and flaxseed oil and a number of supplements. Some foods and food groups are restricted (e.g., gluten, meat, dairy). Early background theory that contributed to the protocol’s development is presented as is a summary of relevant evidence concerning the anti-cancer fighting properties of the individual components. Supplement intake is considered in relation to daily recommended intakes. Challenges and risks to protocol adherence are discussed. As with many complementary and alternative interventions, clear evidence of this dietary protocol’s safety and efficacy is lacking. Consumers of this protocol may require guidance on the ability of this protocol to meet their individual nutritional needs.
PMCID: PMC3257729  PMID: 22254073
anticancer diet; cancer; complementary and alternative medicine; supplements
8.  Association of low intake of milk and vitamin D during pregnancy with decreased birth weight 
Some pregnant women may be advised or choose to restrict milk consumption and may not take appropriate supplements. We hypothesized that maternal milk restriction during pregnancy, which can reduce intakes of protein, calcium, riboflavin and vitamin D, might represent a health risk by lowering infant birth weight.
We screened women between the ages of 19 and 45 years who were attending prenatal programs in Calgary, Alberta (51°N) for low milk consumption (≤ 250 mL/d). Using repeat dietary recalls, we compared these women and their offspring with women whose daily milk consumption exceeded 250 mL (1 cup). Birth weight, length and head circumference were obtained from birth records.
Women who consumed ≤ 250 mL/d of milk (n = 72) gave birth to infants who weighed less than those born to women who consumed more (n = 207; 3410 g v. 3530 g, respectively; p = 0.07). Infant lengths and head circumferences were similar. Women who restricted milk intake had statistically significantly lower intakes of protein and vitamin D as well. In multivariate analyses controlled for previously established predictors of infant birth weight, milk consumption and vitamin D intake were both significant predictors of birth weight. Each additional cup of milk daily was associated with a 41 g increase in birth weight (95% confidence interval [CI] 14.0–75.1 g); each additional microgram of vitamin D, with an 11 g increase (95% CI 1.2–20.7 g). Neither protein, riboflavin nor calcium intake was found to predict birth weight.
Milk and vitamin D intakes during pregnancy are each associated with infant birth weight, independently of other risk factors.
PMCID: PMC1435952  PMID: 16636326

Results 1-8 (8)